Deesha Philyaw and Dawnie Walton on the Business of Publishing
From the Ursa Short Fiction Podcast with Deesha Philyaw and Dawnie Walton
On this special Member Exclusive episode of Ursa Short Fiction, authors Deesha Philyaw (The Secret Lives of Church Ladies) and Dawnie Walton (The Final Revival of Opal & Nev) offer a comprehensive guide to the business of publishing—from submitting short stories to literary magazines, to navigating rejection, and finding an agent.
Philyaw and Walton also share their own personal stories about the process, including working with editors and ultimately getting their books published. But before any of that, there’s the question of how a writer should think about the creative process vs. the business side of selling your work:
From the conversation:
Walton: A graduate student asked me recently whether they’d be wise as a writer to consider the market, or market trends. And I’m curious, Deesha, what your take is on that.
Philyaw: Well, market trends have no business in the creative process. And there’s no guarantee that you’ll get a book deal or that your book will do well, even if you do write to the trends. And then you’re stuck with a book that isn’t successful in the ways you’d hoped it would be, and it’s not the book you really wanted to write. And that would be tragic.
Walton: I will die on the hill of creating purely to find magic, and to satisfy yourself and your own curiosities, because why else pursue art, right, if you make it like any other job? And yet: It’s important to talk about the business of publishing because when you have the manuscript finished, you are looking to get it published, and you do have to switch on kind of a savvy business mindset and some strategic thinking.
Episode Links and Reading List:
Poets & Writers: Literary Magazine Database • Chill Subs (Another great magazine database) • “The High Shelf” (The Oxford American) • “Dr. Sandman” (The Oxford American) • Other People’s Rejection Letters by Bill Shapiro • We Need New Names by Noviolet Bulawayo